Friday, October 30, 2015

Old town of Southern Italy

Welcome to our blog, Genzano it story
and this post, Old towns of Southern Italy
Old towns of southern Italy

This photo shows the oldest part of Genzano town, it is situated on top of a hill between two chasms. This is a typical way of how the old towns were built in the past, it was done for safety reasons, so that the citizens could defend themselves from aggressions.

Old towns of southern Italy
Dear readers, this is the continuation of our last post, the town I came from. So now, let us go back to our discussions about the towns of Southern Italy; in fact let us go back one more step in time; to those ancient times when some people of this region used to live in the caves, not only in Genzano the town I come from, but also in other towns of this region, as we are going to see in the following explanation
In the old continent of Europe as well as in Southern Italy, lots of medieval towns were built on a rugged hill, or something similar for reason of safety, as we all know that in ancient times and in the Middle Ages towns had to be built in such positions, in order to make it hard for the enemy to get into town, and easy for the inhabitants to defend the town from aggressions. Today some of these towns are a sight to see like this photo that I have come across on the Internet. This here under is one of the scenic towns of southern Italy; it is in the same region of Genzano and similar in the ways that the towns were built in the middle-age.  
Very old town Matera 

This part of the old town of Matera is one of the extreme ways of how the towns were built then. What we are seeing here in the town of Matera is an old castle, today I believe it is called palazzo, Lanfranchi, as you can see, it is a very old strange place. 
This is a very old church in Matera town, the church is called, Saint Peter cavoso, as the name suggests part of it has been dug out inside the rocks, or sassi as they are called over there, but there are a lot more dug outs in Matera and this is all explained, if you read our text.  
-----------------------Here under is a report that I found on the internet;  And here I quote;
It seems as though everyone in this region moved into caves, which came to be known as i sassi (stones). You would think Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano (which begin at Piazza V. Veneto) were just typical Italian hilltowns until you realize the "houses" are all windowless grottoes with damp walls and earthen floors, where the family's animals slept side-by-side with the humans.
Far from being uncivilized, these rock towns had intricate hydraulic systems that kept water fresh and cool year round. Eventually the caves gained fa├žades and roofs, but the interiors remained virtually unchanged. Nearly 15,000 people were still living in them in 1952, when the government finally declared them unhealthy and outlawed their use. There are several places where you can visit a typically furnished sasso: the most indicative is probably the one at Vico Solitario 12, in Sasso Caveoso.
End Of quote:
Dear readers, we have taken the liberty of showing you another place in southern Italy, so that in a way it shows you the way that some of the people of this region used to live for a very long time, the reason for doing this is to show you that Genzano the town I have come from has a similar story, but the inhabitant of the caves left the caves a long time ago to live in the town. So let us go back to talk about Genzano again.

The old Genzano town
Here we need to say that the history of the existence of Genzano the town I come from is very ancient, as there is some evidence that the town of Genzano already existed when Christianity began in the Roman times. Some historian says that perhaps were the Romans that started Genzano town about the VI century BC when they had this ‘Pagus Gentianum settlement to control this part of their territory, there are other stories also. But in this story that we are talking about here is that very old and part of Genzano of the thirteenth century or there about that is built on a strip of land which is situated between two chasms, and these chasms are situated at the edge of a high plateau 588 meters above sea level; and the modern Genzano is a continuation of the ancient part of this town, which has kept steadily growing onto the high plateau itself up to the present days.
In the old continent of Europe as well as in Southern Italy, lots of medieval towns were built on a rugged hill for safety reasons, some of these people that went to live in these towns were people that used to live nearby, in all sorts of rugged accommodations, some of these rugged accommodation could have been caves where the terrain was right to have caves, so, some of them used to live in these caves, but they were not real cavemen, as they were just people who later on became the inhabitants of the towns. Also the town of Genzano has a similar story and a large part of its inhabitants came from these caves below the town itself. And here dear readers we would like to describe in general terms, if you don’t mind us telling you the ancient nature of these caves, the terrain where they stand, and perhaps take an educated guess why these caves were made there in the first place, who made them and why they have been made there.
In the beginning of current Era, because of the nature of the terrain of the high plateau which was sandy at one end, allowed the rainwater to erode the soil easily away, forming two chasms of considerable depth; which by memory I would consider them to be 30 meter plus in depth. So Genzano that part of the ancient town was built on the remains of the edge of an old high plateau, which the rainwater’s had slowly dug and taken away the soil downstream, leaving a high strip of land which was narrowing till the chasms met. And upon this triangular and narrow piece of high land, the inhabitant of Genzano began to build their own town.
But before they built or rebuilt their own town of Genzano, some of these people must have been living somewhere else, and they must have overgrown the place where they were living in, and this was part of the reason they started building their house in Genzano town. Now, the place that they could have been living in was in the caves in the chasm, which their forbears as the first and permanent inhabitants of this region had dug in the walls of the chasms.
The walls of the chasms being Tuffaceous and very compact, and sandy in nature with a few layers of sandstone at different levels, it had been possible for the first inhabitant to dig in the walls of the chasms and make a cave. And the caves although they are large they are reasonably safe from cave-ins; an average cave could be 6 or 7 meters wide, and 6 or 7 meters high at the entrance, and some twenty meters long becoming a bit smaller at the far end.
Now if you stop and think just for a moment, how hard it must have been to dig in the walls of the chasms in order to make caves, and then also to carry all the soil outside and away from the caves, even if they used to dump the soil at the bottom of the chasms, and then wait for a good torrential rain to take away the soil downstream, it would really be a mammoth of a job to dig those caves.
So here we can easily say and demonstrate that life is and always will be a struggle, as it was a struggle even then to dig those caves. And we believe that perhaps life then was much harder than nowadays. Because to hand excavate those caves must have been hard work indeed, and it must have taken them ages and millions of men’s hours, as there are lots of caves in the chasms, in fact it could be that there are one hundred caves in Genzano territory. Now because all this happened a very long time ago, nobody these days seems to know who they were the first inhabitant of the caves in the chasms, or where they came from, and how many of these caves they made in the beginning.

 Who could they be

Who could they be?
The first inhabitant of this region might have been just a group of shepherds grazing their herds, and having found a sort of shelter in the chasm, from the cold winds or rain in winter times, they stopped there and tried to improve this natural shelter; so they started to dig these caves for themselves and for their flocks. Or they could have been people that were fleeing away from their enemies, and having found a sort of shelter in the shape of the chasms, they stopped there and made it their home. Really they could be both, and perhaps even more different groups of people.
Today one of the chasms is still called the Greek chasm from the elders of Genzano, and this means that at least sometime in the past people from Greece have lived there, or owned one of the chasms since they were living there. About the Greek people there is still another story, which is somehow different in nature from what we are trying to say at this moment, so we will have to come back to it later on, when we are ready to tell you the story of the Greek chasm and the Madonna story.
But now we would like to tell you, about when the inhabitant of the caves build their own houses on this strip of land at the top of the chasms; which later on would become the town of Genzano, and which was named very likely after one of their leaders, or perhaps it is indeed an ancient name, as there is a legend about two lovers (Yens and San, since even today in the local dialect this name of Genzano is pronounced Yensan) or was it this Roman name of Pagus Gentianum that slowly changed to Genzano, we can only guess, therefore the name of the town and the time when Genzano came into existence as a town for the first time nobody knows but in another hub that we are going to call, Genzano di Lucania history, we are going to describe what we believe happened. So, see you there.
Anyhow whatever we can say about our own native town, whether we like it or not when somebody asks me, Where you come from? I will say, Genzano is the town I came from.
That is all for this post; See you soon.
Genzano it story
old towns of Southen Italy
Next time with, Genzano is the town I came from

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